Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Getting It Right--Remembering the History

In the last month or so I've been reading and contemplating essays and posts written by Very Important People who are Very Serious, Highly Influential and Highly Respected about how they got "it" (the Iraq Invasion and Occupation) wrong. I'm not going to bother with providing links here to these Very Important Thoughts penned by these Very Important People. Most of their writings can be boiled down to these nutshells:

1. I was misled and lied to, and didn't and couldn't know better.
2. I had an emotional reaction to anti-war "hippies."
3. I wasn't really for it, but felt I had to go along once it seemed inevitable.

I've been wondering how come it is that these people, with their advanced college degrees and their professional pedigrees and their network of connections and their ready-made public platforms could have been so gullible and so stupid, and how come lil' ol' nobody me--with no pedigree and no advanced education--got "it" entirely right? How come I knew that the US invading Iraq was wrong, wrong, wrong and that this was a horrible, terrible mistake?

How come? Well, for starters, I have a healthy skepticism of anybody who wants war. I also distrusted Bush and Cheney from the get-go. I also regularly read non-US media. As a rule, I am open to receiving information and evaluating opinions from all sources, and I don't have unexamined emotional knee-jerk discounting reactions towards differing opinions.

But I think the main reason that I got it right was that I hadn't forgotten the past.

I remembered, quite well, the grossly exaggerated claims of Iraq military and weapons super-strength (including claims of chem, nuke and bio weapons) made in the first Iraq invasion (Gulf War I) back in 1991, which were eerily similar to those being made in the run-up to this occupation. I remembered and was aware of the regular bombardment of certain areas of Iraq that had been ongoing since 1991, as well as the terrible impacts of the embargo. I remembered the reports of how the CIA and US military has had Iraq under constant surveillance and close scrutiny since 1991.

I remembered how, back in 1991, the US media reported noxious propaganda as fact (the cold-blooded murders of Kuwati babies in incubators being a particularly odious false claim.) I learned back then that Iraq was a secular, socialist dictatorship, and that Iraqi women under Saddam had rights near-equal to women in Western industrial countries.

I also learned that Iraq had a significant population of Christians. I learned about how Saddam Hussein came to power backed by our CIA. I learned about the long-standing history and frictions between ethnic and religious groups in Iraq--the Shiites, Sunnis and the Kurds, and that people in Iraq were possessed of the full spectrum of political leanings. I learned about the Kurdish separatist rebels who wanted to secede from Iraq, Iran and Turkey to form their own country, and who had engaged in repeated terrorist acts in these three countries and who had also fought a civil war inside Iraq--which led to military repression of the uprising and included the use of mustard gas by Saddam Hussein on a Kurdish civilian population (all with US blessings) because these people were supporting the rebels.
This incident became the well-known rally slogan for the Gulf War--"He kills his own people!" (which slogan was also successfully re-used as a pre-invasion rally cry). (Side note--I've always felt this was an ironic slogan, given that the Kurds themselves don't, and never have, considered themselves as "his" or Iraq's people.)

And I remembered how Bush and Cheney and Rumsfield and Schwartzkopf and Gingrich and the lot of the Republicans claimed that a military occupation of Iraq by the US would be far too difficult and wouldn't ever work. And I remembered how the US leaders told the Kurds that if they rose up to overthrown Saddam Hussein that the US would support them--but instead the US abandonded them and allowed the Republican Guard to murder them instead.

So I remembered my history. And I was right for that simple fact. I remembered, and because I remembered I didn't believe one freaking claim my leaders made. None of it was sensical to anybody who recalled what had transpired not long ago.

Blaming 9-11 on Saddam Hussein didn't ever make one bit of sense. Claiming on the one hand that Saddam Hussein was a madman (and warmongers always personalize a country full of people as a demonic incarnation) who had terrible weapons and wouldn't hesitate to use them was the same exact claim previously made that was also completely false. Claiming that an invasion and occupation would be a cakewalk was patently silly. Claiming that gas would be plentiful and cheap for all was obviously false. All of it, all of the endlessly repeated claims and all of the justifications were just propaganda designed to lead a bunch of fearful sheeple here in the US into supporting a never-ending occupation to directly control Middle East oil.

What kills me in reading the essays by these Very Serious and Very Important People who were totally wrong is that none of them seemed to recall or have taken into consideration what happened before 9-11. Their flawed analyses personify and have unconsciously incorporated the media and government propaganda concepts of a pre versus post 9-11 world. This is why they really were all so wrong, because for them, history is quickly forgotten. The history meant nothing. For them, anything that happened before 9-11 was irrelevant and meaningless.

For me--the history meant everything. That's why I got it right.